White Cloud Mountain Minnow Care Guide: Tank, Feeding and Breeding

Written By Lewis German  |  Temperate Fish  |  0 Comments

Chinese Danio
closeup of a chinese danio,

What are White Cloud Mountain Minnows?

“White Cloud Mountain Minnows”, “Chinese Danios”, “White Clouds”, or the “Poor Man’s Neon Tetra” are names that describe a species of small East Asian Minnow; Tanichthys albonubes.

White Clouds are part of the family Cyprinidae, which includes all Barbs, Carps and Minnows.

They are characterised as a small pelagic fish, with a streamlined build, similar in appearance to a Neon Tetra, which is where their nickname; the Poor Man’s Neon comes from.

They are silver in colour, with a red line down their sides, accompanied with a blue and white streak, with red finnage and white tips.

This fish has also been bred into several colour morphs and long fin varieties in recent years, it can be seen in white, gold, and pink.

Where are White Cloud Mountain Minnows from?

White Cloud Mountain Minnows originate from South East Asia, particularly in parts of China and Vietnam.

However, through pollution and habitat destruction, these fish have been threatened with extinction, and are extremely rare in the wild.

Originally, they were found in fast moving streams and pools within forested areas, that are thick with dense plantlife.

Due to their extinction status, the White Clouds you find at your local fish store, will all have been captive bred in an aquarium or in a farm setting.

Do White Cloud Mountain Minnows need a heater?

White Clouds live in an environment which is subject to various seasonal changes throughout the year, and are able to withstand cold weather to a degree.

Because of their adaptations to live in a changeable environment, they are very hardy fish, and are able to live in a variety of water parameters and temperatures.

You do not need a heater for your White Cloud Mountain Minnow tank, as these fish can live in temperatures as low as 10C / 50F.

Can White Cloud Mountain Minnows live in a tropical aquarium?

Although adapted to live in cooler water, White Clouds can also live in a tropical setting, and make for an excellent peaceful community fish, behaving similar to Neon Tetras.

It should however, be kept in mind that these fish prefer to live in cooler water, and as such should be kept on the lower end of the spectrum.

Avoid keeping your White Clouds at temperatures above 24C / 76F for too long, as they can become uncomfortable and will begin to receive negative effects at higher temps.

Can White Cloud Mountain Minnows live in an outdoor pond?

It is possible to keep your White Cloud Mountain Minnows outdoors during the warmer parts of the year.

For some, you may even be able to keep them outside year round, accepting that they are well protected and the winter is only mild.

These fish do not do well in harsh winters, and will struggle to survive in a pond which fluctuates in temperature dramatically.

During the colder parts of the year, it may be best to take the fish indoors, keep the pond heated, or move the pond to an insulated or protected area, like a shed or a greenhouse.

If you live in a warmer climate, be careful as to not accidentally introduce your fish to any natural bodies of water, as they may become invasive, and damage the local ecosystem.

How large do White Cloud Mountain Minnows grow?

White Clouds are often considered as “nano fish” as they rarely exceed 2” in length, and stay very small.

This small size works great for many beginners who have small aquariums, and allows them to be kept with other small community tank members, like Livebearers, Rasboras and even Shrimp.

They are however, small enough to be eaten by many larger fish, so be sure that when keeping them in a community, that the other fish are just as small, or have small mouths, so that they are unable to swallow your White Clouds.

What size tank do White Cloud Mountain Minnows need?

Due to their small size, peaceful behaviour, hardy nature, and swimming style, Mountain Minnows can be kept in smaller aquariums.

The smallest size tank we would recommend for them is a 10 gallon tank, as this allows you to keep a decent sized group of them (around 6 or so).

Mountain Minnows are highly social, and need to be kept in groups if they are to do well.

Water parameters for White Cloud Mountain Minnows?

pH6.5 – 8
HardnessLow – Moderate KH and GH
Temperature10C – 24C (50F – 76F)
Ammonia (NH3)0 ppm
Nitrite (NO2)0 ppm
Nitrate<5 ppm

What to feed White Cloud Mountain Minnows?

White Clouds are true omnivores, and will take nearly any prepared fish foods, as well as some fresh foods such as live or frozen Bloodworms, Brine Shrimp and Daphnia.

They are best kept on a good mix of frozen and crushed up flake food, which is small enough to be easily swallowed.

Can White Cloud Mountain Minnows live with Goldfish?

We do not recommend keeping White Clouds and Goldfish together in the same tank.

White Clouds are far too small to be safe with an adult Goldfish, and the chances of them being swallowed are too high to risk it.

They may be able to live with young Goldfish for a time, but as they grow, they will need to be removed and separated, unless you want your Minnows to disappear.

Best tankmates for White Cloud Mountain Minnows?

Although they make for superb community members, White Clouds cannot go into every community setup because of their small size, and preference for cooler water.

They are best kept with other small peaceful aquarium fish that are also able to live at cooler temperatures.



Guppies make great tankmates for Mountain Minnows, they are a great size, have a similar temperament, have similar dietary requirements and are both able to live at around 24C / 76F.

These fish do great in heavily planted aquariums, and make an excellent duo for a beginner tropical setup.

Zebra Danios

Zebra Danio

The staple temperate community fish, Danios go great with Mountain Minnows due to their small size, and very similar care requirements.

Danios are related to Mountain Minnows, and so their lifestyles are very similar, meaning that both can be given the same care, and there is no fine balance or middle ground in the water parameters that needs to be achieved.

Both fish will thrive in the same water conditions, same diet and same temperature, making Danios and Mountain Minnows an ideal pairing.

Just be sure not to let them get too cold, as Danios aren’t quite as tolerable to lower temperatures as Minnows, and should be kept above 16C / 61F.

Harlequin Rasboras

Harlequin Rasbora

Harlequins are very similar to Mountain minnows in terms of care requirements, and enjoy a very similar setup to White Clouds.

These fish can be kept at around 23C / 74F, and very much enjoy living in a planted aquarium.

How to sex White Cloud Mountain Minnows?

Mountain Minnows aren’t always easy to sex, as the male and female look very similar at first glance.

However, there are some minor differences between the sexes that can help you better identify them.

Typically, female Mountain Minnows will be larger, they will have much more “Bulk” to them, and will be much wider from the sides when viewed from above.

Females also tend to have damper colours than the males, and are more of a silvery green.

Males are more sleek and slender in build, they are thin bodied and have slightly longer dorsal and anal fins.

The males are also more of a darker silver, and have bright red colouration on their fins and mouth.

Males can also possess white flecks along the edges of their dorsal and anal fins, which they will use to display to females and other males.

How to breed White Cloud Mountain Minnows?

Mountain Minnows are very easy to breed, and are one of our top recommendations as a beginner egg layer for people getting started in breeding aquarium fish.

To breed White Clouds, feed well for around 2 weeks to put weight on the females and bring them into condition.

Eventually you will see that your fish flare up in colour, and you may see the males begin to spar with each other frequently, as they compete for mating rights.

Begin gradually increasing the temperature to around 22C / 72F and perform regular partial water changes, using cool water.

Provide spawning areas for your fish in the form of pebbles, spawning mops, or moss.

Your White Clouds should start to spawn in regular intervals each morning for a few days.

When it comes to raising the eggs and fry, if you have a planted tank, with no other tank inhabitants, the fry can sometimes raise themselves, as the parents do not eat their young in most cases.

However, if you want the maximum survival rate, then it is best to move the eggs or the parents to a different tank, just in case.

Raise the fry on infusoria, Baby Brine Shrimp, White Worms and crushed flakes, feeding 3 times daily.

After around 2 – 3 months, they should be large enough to be moved back with their parents without any issue.